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Great Bear Rainforest Deal 2006 - A Backgrounder

7 March 2006
Here is a translated summary of the reaction to the
"Great Bear Rainforest Agreement" by the ArbeitsKreis
nördliche Urwälder (AKU).





The "Deal" (7 February 2006)

This section has not been translated. Please refer to the German version.

The LRMP Process

(not translated)


The Yes-Sayers

(not translated)

The Evidence

Agreement 2006 Data
status size % sum 1 sum 2
existing parks 4 430 square kilometer 6,9% 27,2%
1,7 Mio ha
2,0 Mio ha
new protected areas 13 000 square kilometer 20,3%
mining / no logging zone 2 970 square kilometer 4,7% 72,8%
4,7 Mio ha
unprotected 43 600 square kilometer 68,1% 68,1%
whole area 64 000 square kilometer 100% 100% 100%

NOTICE: Abweichende Zahlen in den Presseerklärungen der am Abkommen beteiligten Umweltorganisationen sind auf Euphemismen und Rundungsfehler zurückzuführen (so ist oft für Summe 1 von 1,8 Mio ha die Rede, für Summe 2 von 33%) . Je nachdem, ab welchem Zeitpunkt "Bisherige Parks" und "Neue Schutzgebiete" gezählt werden, variieren die Angaben zwichen 6,9 und 9% bisherigen Parks und 19 bis 20,3% neuen Schutzgebieten.

(Text not translated)


Future Forestry

(Text not translated)


Coast Information Team Ignored

(Text not translated)


Reactions to the Agreement

Text not translated;
the following screenshot taken from the Greenpeace Germany Website suggests that the "Great Bear Rainforest" is protected and everything is fine...


Greenpeace suggeriert:
Alles geschützt!

Offenbar aus "Erfolgszwang" die Kampagne nach
9 Jahren abzuschließen formulierten Greenpeace Deutschland und Schweiz ihre Pressemitteilung vom 7.2.2006 missverständlich - jedenfalls für den flüchtigen Leser, der keine weiteren Informationen anfordert.
Eine Zahl, die die genannten 1,8 Mio Hektar in Verhältnis zur Gesamtgröße der Gebietes setzt wurde offenbar bewusst vermieden.


Participation of First Nations

(not translated)



The Map of the Agreement (2006)

Klick on the map to download as printabel 2,5 Megabyte PDF-file.



The 2006 Land Use Plan: A Summary

In weighing the plusses and minusses of the Great Bear Rainforest
Agreement, AKU states the following.

+ + + Plus Points + + +

  • Quite a few of the remaining pristine valleys are protected now, including the contentious Skowquiltz and Hotsprings Valley in Nuxalk Territory.
  • Many (but not all) areas protected in the Moratorium of 2001 are now protected.
  • In most of the cases the protected areas are complete watersheds.

? ? ? Uncertain ? ? ?

  • The implementation of recommendations for changes of forest practices towards ecosystem based management (EBM) including a stop of clearcut logging, although promised, remains doubtful.
  • Participation by, and consultation of the First Nations living in the GBR, although promised, remains uncertain.
  • Unknown are the backroom promises that may have been made to the forest industry in compensation for their renunciation of timber in the now protected areas.


- - - MINUS - - -

  • The majority of logging is and will continue to be done by large
    corporations. Small-scale logging continues to be given a lower priority by the Ministry of Forestry.
  • By turning only one third of the GBR into protected areas, the scientific goals for protecting endangered species are not met. These were defined by the CIT (Coast Information Team) which recommended a protection of 44-70% in order to ensure there will be no loss of  biodiversity).
  • Most of the salmon bearing rivers are outside the protected areas and remain threatened by logging operations (see the press release by David Suzuki Foundation, 7 February 2006).
  • While it is true that EBM could increase the amount of protection if properly implemented, the outcome of continued EBM negotiations is still unclear, and unlikely to increase the protection to anywhere near the amount recommended by the CIT.
  • Too few primeval forests are protected. For a unique region like the Great Bear Rainforest it is not sufficient only to protect 34% of the remaining old growth.
  • The location of the protected areas form a patchwork. A unified
    protected area "Great Bear Rainforest" does not exist, notwithstanding the concentration of protected areas around the "Greater Kitlope."
  • The Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) will hardly be reduced: 2.5 to 3
    million cubic metres a year.
  • More than three quarters of timber are extracted from ancient forests. As the annual cut in BC will not be reduced, other patches of old-growth in other parts of the province will be made to pay the consequences.
  • The agreement prevents the protected areas from logging only. Trophy hunting continues to be allowed for BC residents. Wildlife in the fjords remains unprotected and a negative impact on the protected areas is exerted by aquaculture, deep sea harbour activity and rock quarrying.
  • Lifting of the moratorium on offshore drilling for oil and gas next to the GBR is a real possibility.
  • The GBR agreement gives a measure of protection to Central and North Coast forests only: the other Canadian primeval forests will continue to be logged apace.

# # # Conclusion # # #

  • The "Great Bear Rainforest" is only partically protected.
  • Only one third is protected. Two thirds will be sacrificed to the forest industry.
  • Perhaps this poor result was all that was within the reach of the
    negotiating environmental organizations, but it is no reason for resting on their laurels.
  • Keep avoiding timber and paper products from Canada's primeval forests! Only a tiny part of the vanishing Canadian old-growth is safe. The rest remains unprotected from destruction.




Commentary on the 2006 Agreement
(in parts: Additional commentary to the german version from the AKU listserve)

Lydia Bartz (urgewald)
"Germany continues to import pulp and paper from primeval forests that are being destroyed in BC. Our responsibility for this destruction does not change with this agreement: Germany must drastically reduce its paper consumption."

Götz Ellwanger (Natura 2000 specialist, BFN)

"The agreement is not an international model for sustainability. . .
One certainly does not have to be a prophet to see that the lumber
industry will continue to do as it wants in 2/3 of the GBR, especially
as no agreement will be made until 2009 on EBM."

Hereditary Chief Qwatsinas (Nuxalk Nation)

The House of Smayusta was not part of the original agreement signed on April 04, 2001 because it was part of, and connected to the BC Treaty process.
The House of Smayusta fought to save the "Great Bear Rainforest" (GBR) not to deal it away or trade it off. We believed, and loved that the GBR is far more than a logging opportunity, a bargaining chip, or governmental PR tool; we want it to remain intact, and standing. It is a rare species of endangered temperate rainforest nearing extinction; it is a global treasure that does not have boundaries. Our people, the Nuxalk faced extinction before the turn of the century in 1900 ad.; our ancestors had the wisdom to see, and feel this, so they put a plan in place. Which succeeded for us. I am a Nuxalk; I know what that feels like today. The GBR cannot speak for itself, and needs our help, otherwise it is going to die. For humanity; it will take thousands of years to rebuild itself again, to where it once was. I would hate to leave that legacy in the next hundreds of years for the next generations.
Do we have to cut every tree down, because it is standing there? Maybe, as humans; we have failed to be teachers to ourselves, and to the future. Not in the name of the Indian people of BC, should the destruction of the GBR be allowed, and that is the way, it appears over here.
I am still strong in believing that we must love the land, and waters because of what it gives to us. I am praying for the grizzly bear, because so much of their homes are going to destroyed soon. Of course, my prayers go out to all the other life within the GBR.
I tried my best to save it. I would do it all over again, because we all can make a difference. It'll be worth more than we think. Will you buy shampoo, paper, and other products from the GBR?


Angelika Hanko (Staedtisches Gymnasium Loehne)

"There is a lot of positive energy over here in Germany. But as we have a close relationship to the Nuxalk Nation, especially to the House of Smayusta, we are thinking about how to help them out. If they get a bad deal we will certainly not accept that. We will urge the German paper industry to keep up the pressure."

Greg Higgs (FAN)

"Perhaps we should gather the ENGO campaigners in BC and abroad and FNs who want more protected and come together for a meeting (ie Vancouver or Bella Coola) to try to figure out what steps can be taken to achieve more in the future."

Jutta Kill (FERN)
"None of the radio or newspaper reporting has mentioned the size of the compensation paid to the forestry companies - or made a link to the overall annual allowable cut in BC not having come down at all, just moved to the Interior where the forestry industry has cheap access to bark beetle kill pine."

Philipp Küchler (AKU)

"Today (20 February 2006) Raincoast Conservation Society released a
readable press statement on the GBR agreement. At last, one of the environmental groups in Canada has come out with an open and sound critical statement."

Christian Offer (ecodevelop, Berlin)

"The whole discussion should focus on the question of how such highly
compromising deals are communicated in public. . . the over-enthusiastic applause for the deal leaves us with a feeling of resignation over the status quo of its minimal outcome."

Karen Wonders (Georg-August Universität Göttingen)

"There should be no negotiations over the cutting of ancient trees. These should be sacrosanct, as they are in Europe. Half of the GBR has already been clearcut and big trees are rare in any case, so the extermination of any of the surviving giants must be condemned as barbaric.


Text:  ArbeitsKreis nördliche Urwälder (AKU)